Switzerland resumes payments to UNRWA

Switzerland resumes payments to UN's agency for “Palestinian refugees” after it is cleared of allegations of mismanaging funds.

Elad Benari, Canada ,

UNRWA school in eastern Jerusalem
UNRWA school in eastern Jerusalem

Switzerland said on Friday it had resumed payments to UNRWA, the UN's agency for “Palestinian refugees”, after a UN probe cleared the organization of allegations of mismanaging funds, according to AFP.

A UN ethics report earlier this year alleged mismanagement and abuses of authority at the highest levels of UNRWA, including involving UNRWA's top official, Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl, who eventually resigned over the allegations.

In the wake of that report, Switzerland halted its contributions to UNRWA. Other countries did so as well, including the Netherlands and New Zealand.

In early November, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres released a statement saying the preliminary findings of an internal UN probe found no "fraud or misappropriation of operational funds" by Krahenbuhl.

"There are, however, managerial issues that need to be addressed," his statement said.

The Swiss foreign ministry told AFP in an email Friday that Guterres had confirmed in a letter sent to Bern on December 3 that "the probe uncovered no evidence of misappropriation of funds".

The ministry also highlighted reforms put in place by UNRWA to better manage donor funds.

"Taking into account the measures taken and the confirmation from the UN Secretary-General that no donor funds had been misappropriated, (Switzerland) has decided to resume its payments to UNRWA," it said.

Before halting its payments to the agency, Switzerland had already dished out 25 million Swiss francs ($25.4 million, 23 million euros) in 2019.

In addition to the accusations of misappropriation, UNRWA is also notorious for its anti-Israel activities. During the 2014 counterterrorism Operation Protective Edge, Hamas rockets were discovered inside a school building run by UNRWA.

Likewise, a booby-trapped UNRWA clinic was detonated, killing three IDF soldiers. Aside from the massive amounts of explosives hidden in the walls of the clinic, it was revealed that it stood on top of dozens of terror tunnels, showing how UNRWA is closely embedded with Hamas.

The US, which was previously UNRWA's largest contributor, last year cut a full $300 million in funding to the agency, leaving it strapped for cash and asking other countries to help fill the gap.

The agency’s officer-in-charge said recently that UNRWA is facing the worst financial crisis in its history and has a budget deficit of $332 million.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)